Anti-poaching: “Judges are beginning to understand the challenges of wildlife conservation,” said Cornelius Moukson Kutia (Republic of the Congo)


Agence d’Information d’Afrique Centrale/Brazzaville

Date Published

International agencies are sounding the alarm about the fact that in
2050 in African countries the population will double or triple. This
population growth will have strong impacts on natural resources,
including wildlife. Thus, wildlife managers made several suggestions
to states to reduce poaching. In this regard, the legal assistant to
the Fund World Wildlife in Space Tridom Interzone Congo (WWF-ETIC),
Corneille Moukson Kutia, responded to questions from Dispatches from

Dispatches from Brazzaville (LDB): Our country commemorated the
International Day of wildlife. What was the contribution of the WWF
project in the Congo?

Corneille Moukson Kutia (CMK): WWF in Congo since 2005 is already
contributing to the protection of Space TRIDOM Interzone Congo (ETIC)
in synergy with our teams in Cameroon and Gabon as part of the
management of natural resources within the landscape’s ecological
priority Tri-national Dja-Odzala-Minkébé (TRIDOM). There are various
activities undertaken: support for anti-poaching, creating protected
areas (Messok Dja), large wildlife inventories, and minimizing
environmental impacts of extractive industries. Outside this area, we
also support the promotion of good practices for sustainable forest
management, including accompanying forestry companies to FSC
certification, as well as supporting the FSC and the forestry sector
through the development of national standards.

Thanks to the International Day of Wildlife, WWF-ETIC issued to the
staff of WWF and its partners, messages of recognition by mail, to
remind them of our common commitments linked to the protection of
nature and to the preservation of wildlife.

LDB: In 2050, according to estimates by international agencies,
populations of African countries will double or triple. According to
you, what then will be the impact of this increase on wildlife? And
what do you suggest to mitigate poaching?

CMK: The increase in world population could be an important issue for
eco-tourism. This would be possible only if local people, who very
often are involved the slaughter of elephants, and organized crime
groups that supply of arms and ammunition, understand the importance
of preserving the wildlife. This could be beneficial for people
otherwise creating jobs through parks and attractions. But this
increase could also have a negative impact on wildlife if governments
do not take measures strong enough for the management of wildlife as
bushmeat. There will definitely be an increase in demand and therefore
a significant reduction in wildlife could mean the total disappearance
of certain animal species on the Earth’s surface. As part of the fight
against poaching, Congo is a signatory to several international
conventions in the image of CITES (Cites) as per the Washington
Convention of 1973. It was therefore obliged to submit to these
commitments and to include in its internal policy the provisions of
international law which it expressed commitment to.

LDB: Often organizations working for the environment are unhappy with
the outcome of the trial of wildlife offenders, however it is due?

CMK: I would not speak for all organizations working for the
conservation of the environment, but rather on my own behalf, I find
that some efforts have been made recently and feel that judges are
starting to understand the challenges of conservation and government
policy in the matter. Basically it is not only a dissatisfaction of
conservation NGOs but also people who would like to continue to see
and hear the elephants, currently under enormous pressure from
poachers. However, it is true that we depend on the readiness of the
judge to punish wildlife poachers and traffickers to eradicate this

LDB: Can you explain what happened during the recent hearing of the
court poacher Mboka Fulgence Ouesso?

CMK: In effect, during the hearing, where appeared Mboka Fulgence for
the facts of unintentional manslaughter, participation of butchery of
a completely protected kind (elephant),

and complicity in the illegal possession of a weapon of war, in the
hearing held on April 21, 2016, in the court trying criminal cases of
Ouesso, the judge decided to give him clemency by accepting the
request of a provisional release formulated by this last.

With regard to debates in the bar, it emerged from him that he was not
the sponsor of the hunting party of the elephant who was worth the
(native) life in Bahaka. The person who acknowledged his involvement
as a sponsor and owner of a weapon of war, Ngouema Antoine, now denies
this accusation of that charge in front of the judge, which he
formulated in front of the law enforcement officers during
interrogation. He now rejects the wrong on those who would have lost
their lives and been buried in the forest, ignoring the origin of this
weapon. Were there internal arrangement between the accomplices who
were held in the same cell, to deceive the vigilance of the judge?

Although this was not the case in this case, rare are the prisoners
who get bail and then return to follow the hearings because for them
their release means they are finally free. At the hearing on June 9,
the judge decided the matter by acquitting  Mboka Fulgence and also
condemning his accomplice Ngouema Antoine, who allegedly participated
in the hunting party. The latter was sentenced to two years in prison,
suspended sentence, and a fine of 500,000 CFA francs. However, we
reiterate that the Sangha Department is still a hotbed of elephant
poaching as warranted by the exorbitant number of arrests that have
been carried out. More than half of the procedures that involve the
High Court of Ouesso are wildlife offences.